Philosophies and religions throughout the ages share a common theme: this is the theme of dying and rising to a higher level. Socrates said, “Those who rightly love wisdom are practicing dying” (Great Dialogues 470). He didn’t mean they are practicing a physical death but the death of a certain state of being. It is the ending of one level of existence and the beginning of a new, more developed level.
Many Eastern religions carry the idea of self-denial in order to gain a connection with an eternal state of being, or God. This can be considered death of your worldly self and birth of a spiritual one. In the Bible Christ’s death and resurrection has the same significance. It is not only a literal story with historical value but symbolizes this process of death to the worldly self and birth to a Godly self. This theme is not only prominent in religion and philosophies but surfaces in numerous stories throughout the world—this alone is proof of its significance in life. These people who write and talk about it are trying to tell the world something. The truth is out there, whether you choose to hear it or not.
The Matrix is a modern day story that so accurately communicates this theme. Exploring it will bring to light the significance of various principles that are woven throughout the Bible and other philosophical teachings but have been lost in our world of literal understanding. The Matrix is a story about spiritual awakening, an idea that is as old as it is real.
Neo, the main character, is presented for the first time asleep at his computer as if waiting for something. We find out a little later that he is looking for Morpheus. Trinity tells Neo:
“I know why you’re here, Neo. I know what you’ve been doing. I know why you hardly sleep, why you live alone and why, night after night, you sit at your computer; you’re looking for him. I know because I was once looking for the same thing, but when he found me he told me I wasn’t really looking for him. I was looking for an answer.” (The Matrix)
Neo knows there is something wrong with the world he lives in, “…like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” (The Matrix)
Nothing feels real; Neo is full of doubt and has begun to deny everything the Matrix has to offer. His sleep is not a physical one but symbolizes the sleep of his real self, the self capable of a greater understanding that the worldly self can not comprehend. However, by denying the part of himself that is of the Matrix (the physical world) he opens himself up to the truth and the possibilities of awakening his real self. These ideas of self-denial are seen particularly in Buddhism and Indian religions but are, in one form or another, presented everywhere, including Christianity. Neo is empty and feels it, and it is the acceptance of this feeling that brings him to Morpheus.“It’s the question that drives us, the question that brought you here. You know the question just as I did.”
“What is the Matrix?”
“The answer is out there, Neo. It’s looking for you and it will find you, if you want it to.” (The Matrix)
This last part is important: “…if you want it to.” You have to be willing. You have to accept that, in your present state you are empty and nothing fulfills you. For Neo, his present state is the Matrix. For us, it is this physical world we live in, which is filled with material possessions and promise after promise that a better life awaits, whether in a new house, relationship, or a new tomorrow. Neo, just as we do, craves to know what is real and lasting. In this scene, Trinity also tells Neo that he is in danger of being taken by the agents of the Matrix. Figuratively, the agents of the Matrix are all the things that keep a person at the worldly level: egotism (or self-love), ignorance, and desires for material things, money, and power. People become so absorbed by these things that they settle and are unable to change. They will never allow themselves to be completely within an empty state of being where truth can enter and enlighten them.
In scene five, Neo is at work and receives a phone call from Morpheus. Morpheus guides him through the building in order to escape the custody of the agents. Neo has to follow Morpheus’ directions blindly—he doesn’t know where he will end up but must have complete faith in Morpheus to escape. He comes to a window where he is supposed to use the scaffold to get to the roof. In this moment Morpheus tells Neo, “There are only two ways out of this building. One is that scaffold. The other is in their custody.” (The Matrix) Overwhelmed with the threatening distance between himself and the ground, he turns back and is taken by the agents. This is Neo’s first test, which he obviously fails. He is not ready to let go of everything he has learned in his life; he is not ready to let go of his self as it exists in relation to the Matrix. This scene holds another significant point; it is the first time we are introduced to Morpheus. Morpheus is not of the Matrix but of the real world. He is Neo’s guide and represents the truth. Throughout the movie he says things such as, “I can guide you, but you must do exactly as I say,” (The Matrix) and “I told you that I can only show you the door. You have to step through it.” (The Matrix) A guide or teacher can not make a student do anything; he can only show them the truth and the way. In order for that person to acquire real knowledge and understanding that changes their being, they must make all the choices and individually act on them; they must apply the knowledge (acquired through the guide) to themselves.
When Neo is taken into custody, Agent Smith brings to his attention, “It seems that you have been living two lives: in one life, you are Thomas A. Anderson, program writer for a respectable software company… the other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias Neo, and are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for.” (The Matrix) Neo’s two lives symbolize his connection with the Matrix and his connection with reality. Thomas A. Anderson, his connection with the Matrix, represents what is at a lower, worldly level. Agent Smith repeatedly calls him by that name, as if trying to keep him at that level. As the movie progresses, Neo becomes more and more sure of his real self, who he is meant to be, and towards the end, he tells Agent Smith with conviction, “My name is Neo!” (The Matrix)
As mentioned above, the Matrix represents the world we know, the world that offers us the desires and temptations keeping us on the same level.
“The Matrix is everywhere. It’s all around us, here even in this room. You can see it out your window or on your television. You feel it when you go to work, or go to church, or pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” (The Matrix)
This description makes it all too clear that the Matrix is very much a part of your life. And it is something that you won’t recognize unless you want to. But what truth? “That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch… a prison for your mind.” (The Matrix) If our minds are in a prison, what does that mean? It means that we are not in control of them. We are governed by all of our petty desires that are constantly changing and wanting more. Those desires are fed by the world we live in. We are slaves to it. “With loves and desires and fears and all kinds of fancies and much rubbish, it infects us, and really and truly makes us, as they say, unable to think one little bit about anything at any time.” (Great Dialogues 469)
Socrates compared the body to a prison for the soul and said, “…The very care and practice of the philosophers is nothing but the freeing and separation of soul from body…” (Great Dialogues 470) This freeing and separation he also referred to as dying, and what dies is the body. By body Socrates meant the part of an individual that is of the worldly level; the part that is tempted and swayed by desires, having no control or free will. That part of the individual does not know truth and can only be infected with what is not true.
“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” (The Matrix) In order to completely understand the truth, you must experience its reality within you. Morpheus can only show Neo the truth about the Matrix, but Neo must see it and choose to accept it. At this point, Morpheus gives Neo the choice to either take a blue pill or a red pill and tells him, “From this point…there is no going back.” (The Matrix) The red pill will lead Neo to the truth, and he chooses to take it however unsure about things as he is. He doesn’t know what he is walking into but is willing to take the chance. He knows there is nothing to lose because he has grown more and more certain that the Matrix is a false, unfulfilling existence.
After Neo takes the pill, he goes to a room cramped with high-tech equipment. He sees a broken mirror that seems to mend itself. Touching the mirror, it begins to spread down his hand, threatening to envelope his entire body. He sees his reflection compounding into infinity. “With the open hand, we have more of a madhouse; everything has been distorted in Mr. Anderson’s life. He sees himself as mad and distorted, and then it totally overtakes him.” (Art of the Matrix 66) The many reflections represent all of Mr. Anderson’s different “I”s. He is beginning to see the rim of truth; he is beginning to see himself as he really is. He observes not one, whole person in his present state but many, all being pulled in opposing directions by the Matrix. More specifically, he is being pulled by every desire that exists in the Matrix in his mind. Now, for the first time he not only knows but experiences fully the truth that he has absolutely no control over his present state of being. He realizes his helplessness, and the truth overtakes him. The liquid-like mirror vividly demonstrates this by consuming him, taking us (and Neo) through his body to his core. It brings Neo inside himself where his connection with the Matrix is completely broken. Descartes called this Cartesian Nirvana: a disconnection from everything in the world. Descartes said that you get to this point by doubting every opinion and assumption you have about the world, everything you know through your senses, and this, or Cartesian Lunacy, leads to the disconnection with all but your self. In this state answers are uncorrupted from the world. Neo finds this, though his answers are outside of the Matrix, which is his worldly infected self.
Neo’s awakening takes us to a slimy pod in the real world. He looks out and sees millions of other humans sleeping in slimy pods, and they are all plugged into the Matrix. He is living in reality for the first time. Up until this point Neo could only see what he was not: his imagined self existing in the Matrix. One must have a complete understanding of his or her present state of consciousness before transcending into a higher state. The mind can only know what it is not in its present state, in its world of familiarity, symbolically being the Matrix. Because it is of that world it can know nothing real. However, with the help of Morpheus (representing truth and reality), Neo takes the next step and completely disconnects from the Matrix, entering reality.
“Birth is always painful.” (Art of the Matrix 70) This scene in the movie is portrayed with extreme intensity. A symbolic birth, like Neo’s birth into reality, is painful because it is associated with the death of his existence in the Matrix. However, this scene gives the viewer the overwhelming sensation that Neo’s birth is associated with being released and freed. When Neo is no longer plugged into the Matrix the DocBot, a machine that’s of the Matrix, reads Neo as a dead body and so disengages him. Neo obviously isn’t dead, but the part of him that was of the Matrix system is dead and something new has been reborn. Neo in Greek means new. Neo is a new man, free from all preconceptions, uncorrupted and true. However, there are levels of evolution that one must go through before completely free of the mind. And enlightenment itself is, in essence, never-ending. As you see in the following scenes of the movie, Neo has trouble letting go of his past ideas created in the Matrix, though he has been disconnected from it. Later, Morpheus tells Neo that he is the One, the One being a person who has reached a level of consciousness far beyond anyone else. That person’s knowledge of the Matrix combined with its application to the being of this individual produces the ability to exist in the Matrix and be completely unaffected by it. In other words the One can defy the Matrix. Neo doesn’t believe that he is the One until the end, at which point another birth is witnessed; that of Neo’s complete connection with a higher level. In this level, Neo becomes one with the Truth that he seeks.
“It’s what we call residual self image.” (The Matrix) Inside the loading program Morpheus explains to Neo exactly what the Matrix does, “The mental projection of your digital self.” (The Matrix) Self-image and self-love are both part of the Matrix. Creating a false identity of who you are fills the emptiness—emptiness that should be filled with reality. But the Matrix, just as our world, does not offer reality; it provides images, desires, promises, and people choose to settle for those because they are familiar. People fear emptiness, taking a chance as Neo did, and because of that they remain limited to that fraction of the world in which they live. Neo questions Morpheus, “This—this isn’t real?”
“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you feel, taste, smell, or see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” (The Matrix)
You can say that your life is a real one; you drive to school or work, run errands, go out with friends, go home, sleep, and start again the next day. Your physical body functions (more or less) but are you truly alive inside? Are you connected with something that is beyond you, something on a higher level that is eternal and, without a doubt, real? Can you truly say that you are who you were meant to be?
Morpheus shows Neo “the desert of the real,” (The Matrix) or the place in which those controlled by the Matrix actually are. Neo sees with his own eyes that the humanity he was formerly a part of, is asleep in pods, living out their imagined lives in a dream world—in the Matrix. It is dark and lifeless. He sees that the machines control the humans with this deceit because they are dependent on humans for energy. The machines themselves are oblivious to the potential of an awakened, conscious human being. Their understanding, unlike a human being’s, is limited to the Matrix because they are made of nothing more. To put it quite strongly, the machines represent the devil or the dark forces that keep individuals asleep. These dark forces manifest themselves in the individual. They are the mechanical, unconscious actions in his or her life, including self-love or egotism, ignorance, malice, all unnecessary desires, all negative emotional states, etc. The devil, just as the Matrix, feeds on human energy—that is the energy that comes from actions and thoughts provoked by and therefore of the worldly level. By allowing yourself to be deceived (accepting you are nothing more than your thoughts and actions) and giving in to temptations, you are adding to an evil power. “What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dreamworld built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this (Morpheus holds up a battery).” As I said above, it’s hard for Neo to come to terms with the reality, “…the mind has trouble letting go.” (The Matrix)
Neo’s acceptance of truth and reality enter into and change his life dramatically. All the troubles one normally deals with in life, such as work, social, and financial issues, etc. simply disappear, because they no longer exist. He has a new direction, a new aim: this aim is battling the agents of the Matrix, developing his understanding of the Matrix, and completely overcoming its control over his self. So, his training begins. For ten hours straight Tank, Neo’s operator, downloads combat training techniques into Neo’s brain. Following this, Morpheus and Neo enter a sparring program and begin training. After Neo is beaten for the first time, Morpheus tells him, “Do you think that my being faster, stronger has anything to do with my muscles in a place like this? Do you believe that’s air you are breathing now?” (The Matrix) This program they are in is like the Matrix because it too does not exist in reality. Therefore, more a battle of their minds than their bodies, Morpheus is indirectly teaching Neo to free his mind. As they fight for the second time Morpheus says, “Don’t think you are, know you are.” (The Matrix) Neo’s arms speed up into a blur and he hits Morpheus in the face. Neo defies the laws of the Matrix for the first time, not because his mind figured out how to do it, but because he felt that part of himself that exists independent of the Matrix come alive and act for him. However, this is only for a brief instant; the next test is an impossible jump between buildings, and Neo comes drastically short, plummeting to the ground. They exit the computer program and enter reality once more.
Neo spits blood into his hand,“I thought it wasn’t real.”
“Your mind makes it real.”
“If you are killed in the Matrix, you die here?”
“The body cannot live without the mind.” (The Matrix)
This demonstrates how powerful the mind’s delusions can be. It is hard to believe that one can be so greatly deceived and physically affected by it, and yet, how much of what we think and believe is based on assumption? And how often do our emotions rise and fall because of these assumptions? This scene leaves you with a feeling of urgency for Neo. You might ask yourself, do I have this same urgency for myself? Do I have the strength to admit that a persistent doubt exists just below the surface of my life and attempt to uncover the truth about my present condition?
In another training program, Morpheus teaches us more about the agents, or sentient programs, of the Matrix.
“The Matrix is a system, Neo, and that system is our enemy. But when you are inside and look around, what do you see; the minds of the very people we are trying to save, but until we do, these people are still a part of the system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand that most of these people are not ready to be unplugged and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.” (The Matrix)
Like Morpheus said, most people are so dependent on the system, so narrow-minded that they refuse to accept any new ideas. They refuse to accept the possibility that they have been living a false life. This is why most great philosophers and religious leaders were persecuted and ridiculed. People do not want to see the truth. The Matrix—our mind—is the great Deceiver. And we feel safe, though miserable, with this deceit that we already know. We choose our dreams (which are always followed by nightmares) over reality. Why Because we fear that which is not the idea of ourselves: the unknown. If an individual is connected to the Matrix the agents can move in and out of them. The agents, or the worldly influences, move in and out of people all the time. Most individuals are unaware of this fact, assuming that these influences are uniquely, personal experiences. It is in this very assumption that we lose ourselves to the Matrix. “[The agents] are everyone and they are no one.” (The Matrix)
Morpheus tells Neo: “We have survived by hiding from them, running from them, but they are the gatekeepers. They’re guarding all the doors, holding all the keys, which mean that sooner or later someone is going to have to fight them.” (The Matrix)
Earlier in the movie Morpheus spoke of a man born inside the Matrix who achieved the ability to “remake the Matrix as he saw fit.” (The Matrix)
In other words, he understood completely the falseness of the Matrix and that his real nature existed outside of it; therefore, he was unaffected by the Matrix and could do as he willed. It was this free man who enlightened the first group of people, freeing them from the Matrix. After his death the Oracle prophesied his resurrection, bringing the demise of the Matrix. Morpheus had spent his entire life looking for that man and told Neo that his search was over. So with this thought in mind, in the script above you assume that Morpheus is implying Neo when he says, “someone is going to have to fight them.”
Morpheus speaks of the agents:
“Where they have failed, you will succeed… Their strength and their speed are still based in a world that is built by rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be.” (The Matrix)
Morpheus is saying that when Neo comes to an understanding and enters into his real nature, he will be completely undefeatable by Agents of the Matrix. He will be of a higher level than the Matrix, thus unaffected by it. This sounds as unbelievable to Neo as it does to us,
“What? Are you trying to tell me that I can dodge bullets?”
“No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.” (The Matrix)
The most obvious connection with this aspect of the movie is made with the Bible. By the end of the movie, Neo acquires an understanding, which gives him a life free from the agents; he knows that it is his responsibility to share this enlightenment with every individual in the Matrix that wants to see reality. He gives these people the truth and shows them the way. Christ said, “I am the Way, and the truth, and the life.” (John xiv, 6) “The mission of Christ… was not to manufacture truth and meaning by himself, but to understand and teach the Truth and meaning of the Word of God—that is, of a higher level of influences.” (The New Man 22) From this perspective, the connection between the Bible and The Matrix is unmistakable. Maurice Nicoll, who wrote The New Man also said, “If Jesus had been born perfect, he would have been beyond all temptation.” (The New Man 23) Neo represents Christ, and to be born in the Matrix, which parallels with being born in our world, is to be born imperfect. Neo knows the Matrix is false—that a connection with something higher must be made, and this is not an easy road, but it is the only one to travel. It is a constant battle to go against yourself, because the mind (or the Matrix and agents of it) will present all the temptations of its world to keep you under its control. To go against yourself is to go against all mechanical actions, to understand that you are not what you experience, what you feel, but something far more, unchangeable, and powerful. Christ walked this path. If he had not risen from imperfection, he would not be the way; he would not represent the truth that must be applied to all individuals and the path one must take to attain full enlightenment.
Some believe Christ literally died on the cross. I don’t disagree with this, but I do believe that this and many other stories in the New Testament are meant to be taken on a far deeper level. They have more meaning than the literal interpretation of the words and historical actions. They were written in parables to transcend a higher meaning, enabling those who exist on the worldly level to understand the truths of a higher level. When Christ died on the cross, his worldly self was extinguished; he was then reborn a new man, of a higher level. He set the example and showed us our true purpose in this life, what the individual must do to attain a connection with what is higher and truly real.
We come to the turning point in the story after Neo enters the Matrix to visit the Oracle. Neo has come to ask her if he is the One. While he waits, he sees a boy bending spoons. The boy looks up at him and says:
“Do not try to bend the spoon. That is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth… That there is no spoon… Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.” (The Matrix)
To bend the spoon is to defy the Matrix. The boy is demonstrating the fact that the self as it exists in relation to the Matrix (the world) can not itself defy the Matrix. Only through understanding and surrender to the understanding can truth enter into and change the individual. So, only when Neo accepts completely his understanding that the spoon does not exist, and therefore Neo in relation to the Matrix does not exist, does the spoon then bend. As you let go of your false nature, truth carries you to a higher level. The truth will set you free.
When Neo sees the Oracle, she asks him if he thinks he is the One. However, at this point in the movie Neo doesn’t know and she says, “Being the One is just like being in love. Nobody can tell you you’re in love, you just know it.” (The Matrix) She is saying that no one can tell you who you are. She then tells him that he has the gift to be the One but is waiting for something—perhaps his next life. He has the ability, but until he completely lets go of his former self and embraces the One self he is meant to be, he will remain as he is. She also tells him,
“You’re going to have to make a choice. In one hand, you will have Morpheus’ life. In the other hand, you will have your own. One of you is going to die. Which one will be up to you.” (The Matrix)
Following this scene, Morpheus is taken hostage by the Agents. This confirms the Oracle’s prediction; thus, giving Neo something he believes in—that he can save Morpheus by sacrificing his own life. For the first time, Neo wholly believes in this higher power—destiny—and that gives him unwavering confidence. As he fights through a military-controlled building, he begins to move at the speed of the agents; the newly established belief in this higher power gives him the strength to be of that power. He is, in a way, sacrificing himself to it, which opens the doors to a greater understanding, resulting in the complete acceptance of his real self.
In one of the last scenes, we learn much about the creation of the Matrix and of Agent Smith (the most powerful Agent in charge of eliminating any who resist the Matrix, thus especially interested in someone like Neo, who has the ability to defy the Matrix and possibly spread this knowledge to others). We learn that the first matrix was designed to be a perfect human world; however, it was completely rejected and “entire crops (of people) were lost.” (The Matrix)
Agent Smith tells Morpheus (whom he has taken hostage),“Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.” (The Matrix)
There is truth in what Agent Smith says. Humans think the misery associated with the world in which they live is the only reality. As mentioned above, people choose this misery because it is the only thing they know; they are afraid to venture out into the unknown where truth and happiness actually exist. However, what Agent Smith can not know is that it is impossible for the machines, which represent a lower level of existence, to define something on a higher level. They lack the language—they are limited to their world. If the point of life on Earth is to connect and rise to a higher level by overcoming the defects adopted from living on a lower level, then it follows that these “crops” of people would reject this machine-imagined paradise. If there are no defects there is no development or chosen evolution.
Agent Smith injects Morpheus with a truth serum in order to find the codes to Zion’s mainframe. Zion, being the only real human city left is, therefore, the only real resistance to the Matrix. If the Agents were to get access to Zion’s mainframe they could destroy the rebellion. Agent Smith knows that if Zion is destroyed, the Matrix would run on auto-pilot, no work to keep humanity asleep to their situation would be needed. Agent Smith becomes impatient with Morpheus’s resistance and says:
“I hate this place—this zoo—this prison—this reality, whatever you want to call it. I can’t stand it any longer. I must get out of here, I must get free! In this mind is the key, my key!” (The Matrix)
The devil, being the evil forces in human beings, such as self-love, ignorance, malice, etc, constantly work to keep humans glued to their mechanical nature, because only in this state can the evil forces exist. As a human becomes conscious of his or her state that mechanical state itself becomes threatened because what approaches is the end of its existence. When the devil is represented as a singular force in analogies, such as Agent Smith, it can do nothing but feel things such as hate, misery, and pain, and born out of these feelings is a compulsion to spread it to everything else. Agent Smith says, “I hate this place”; the devil hates itself and envies those who are free because it will never be free.Neo succeeds in saving Morpheus, surprised, however that he is still alive because of what the Oracle had said. Morpheus tells him, “Sooner or later, Neo, you’re going to realize, just as I did, the difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” (The Matrix)
What the Oracle said opened Neo’s eyes to what he is capable of if he wholly believes in something. Trinity and Morpheus exit the Matrix, but just as Neo is about to follow, Agent Smith shoots a bullet through the phone, stopping Neo from exiting. Instead of running, Neo turns around and faces the Agent. He is beginning to believe that he is the One and decides to face what has been holding him back—his greatest fear. He realizes that only by overcoming that fear can he completely break free from the Matrix. Neo fights at the highest level he can while still under the limitations of the Matrix, and this strength just barely matches Agent Smith. Neo is almost defeated when Agent Smith has him by the neck in front of an oncoming train.
“Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death. Good-bye, Mr. Anderson.” (The Matrix)
Throughout the movie, Agent Smith incessantly calls Neo Mr. Anderson, his name in the Matrix. He is trying to keep Neo at that level, to convince him that he is nothing more. Neo responds, “My name is Neo!” (The Matrix), and with an extraordinary burst of energy, hurls Agent Smith into the ceiling of the station and back flips off the train tracks. Unable to fight anymore he flees in search of an exit out of the Matrix. As he opens the door to a room with the ringing telephone, which is his exit, Agent Smith is standing there and fires three bullets into Neo’s chest. Neo falls, his heart stops, and he dies. Morpheus and the others who believed Neo to be the One are in a complete state of disbelief. But Trinity speaks to him from the real world,
“Neo, I’m not afraid any more. The Oracle, she told me that I’d fall in love and that man, the man I loved would be the One. So, you can’t be dead because I love you. You hear me? I love you.” (The Matrix)
Neo does hear Trinity and he does Wake Up. But this time Mr. Anderson, along with his fear, doubt, and disbelief does not come back; he has died. Neo awakens into his true self, the One, whole and invincible; he is born a new man. Agent Smith tries desperately to break him, but it is obviously a vain attempt. Neo simply says “No,” in a calm and unaffected voice. He knows he is of a greater world even though he is in the Matrix. Trinity represents unity, and it is her words—her love—coming from the Real World, that awakens Neo and transforms him to a new man born of a higher level, beyond the Matrix. The Trinity in the Bible is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; they are one. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but the Holy Ghost.” (The Bible) Trinity tells Neo he is the One, and because he hears it, he is transformed.
The Matrix ends with Neo talking to the agents of the Matrix,
“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid, you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell how it’s going to begin… I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world, a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders and boundaries, a world where anything is possible.”
The Matrix is not only a story about war between machines and humans; it is an individual war, between the mechanical nature and the nature that yearns to be connected with a higher power. This is a story about evolution of our being from our mind’s mechanical nature that is susceptible to and controlled by evil powers. Philosophers have written about it. Religions have taught it. The path is out there, and our real, eternal nature waits to be uncovered. There is a choice to be made: the comfort of dark familiarity or the courageous journey into the unknown. The choice is up to you…
Copyright 2005 © Rebecca L Butler
The light of God is always there
To help me when I’m in a scare
It yells so loud within my heartTo Truth it leads my wand’ring barque
Some men hear not its mighty call
Their weary minds will come to fall
But as for me I try to hear
The call which is unheard by ear
Copyright 2004 © Richard L Butler
If I could see the course of thee
What I would give to know
Reason falls to mystery
Until you lay below
So wander I through life naïve
For what you hide so cleverly
I fear will never tell
Oh keeper of the imminent
I’ll chase you ‘till I die
With all my strength I can’t surrender
Still and rest in time
Goddess of temptation- ever
Feeding my delusion
I graze like sheep on your deceit
Until my absolution
Oh ruler of this hungry heart
Dreams are my one relief
Yet dreams do pass, awake alas!
Truth rests in firm belief
Thus bound am I to pondering
Through this familiar sea I strain to grow, in vain I know
How wake this sleeping seed?
And when the shadow overwhelms
My soul beyond all hope
I’ll humble there in my despair
And wait ‘till you unfold
But lo! The answer is within:
I am this destiny
When fear invades, I’m swept away
I must admit and live in you
Resistance is a crime,
You who are my absolute:
This life through space and time.
Copyright 2004 © Rebecca L Butler
My life is but a mystery
My destiny still yet to see
A dreary life so sadly played
The happiness a masquerade
A great mirage to bind us in
A land of Truth it’s never been
Temptation lurks within this land
A magnet to the foolish band
Yet some, content, in patient wait
A hope that soon may come the date
The masquerade will fall away
Uncovered be the Truth to they
Copyright 2004 © Richard L Butler
Can you stop screaming for help?
Can you let your life just flow?
Can you look at your anger without feeling guilty?
Can you stand there with nowhere to go?
Can you see that there is no one there
To protect, to defend, to compare?
Can you see that the image you have of yourself
Is illusion – a burden you bear?
Don’t you see what a burden it is to pretend
To be someone you know that you’re not
When something within you begs for the end
Of this act with no meaning or plot?
Oh, what a burden it is to live up to
The labels you’ve chosen to wear.
Can you let them go out of your life,
Stand there empty and lost and not care?
Do you really want out of the mess that you’re in
But ask “What is there left to try?”
Can you see that the answer lies there in the question?
The trying itself must die!
Copyright 2007 © Connie M Butler
I had a glimpse the other day
Of what it’s like to break away
From conditioned thought, mechanical reaction,
To see beyond this life’s distraction
To that which glows within us all
To which so few will heed the call,
To a life of beauty beyond description
With no confusion and no confliction,
Where there is no separate you and me,
Where the mind is clear, of thought set free.
I’ll find my way back there again
To the quiet place that is within.
Copyright 2007 © Connie M Butler
My mind has made me prisoner
Of time, love, hate, career.
In bondage have I lived my life,
The jailer is my fear.
Of all my thoughts the bars are made,
So strong and oh, so high.
They promised me that “This is Life”
And left me here to die,
And die I must but ‘fore I do
A prison break I’ll try.
What, after all, have I to lose,
So loud and clear I’ll cry
I’m breaking out of this here jail,
So stop me if you can.
Step aside time, hate and fear,
I’m Out! I’m a Free Man!
Copyright 2007 © Connie M Butler
Out of the depths of despair
Comes a glimmer of light.
Could we but linger there
Instead of taking flight,
We would see that the emptiness,
The pain and the sorrow
Would vanish in the air
‘Long with fear of tomorrow.
We’d see that there is only now
There is no past or future.
If in the now we live our lives
There is no thought to nurture
Past hurts and dreams and memories
And hopes of fond tomorrows.
If thought did not dwell on our pain
Where would be the sorrows?
The death of thought makes room for Truth
To enter in its place,
And only Truth can set us free.
The Truth we must embrace.
Copyright 2007 © Connie M Butler
Who am I? Where am I going?
These questions have I pondered.
In search of the answers
Many paths have I wandered –
Churches, doctors, spiritual groups,
Prayed to a god ‘out there’
Who loves with reservation.
Each new path I wandered
Led me further astray.
With deep despair I soon cried out,
Is there no other way?
Am I to live all my life
In conflict and confusion?
Is the hope for something more
Only an illusion?
And then one day I heard a voice
Which stirred something within.
It said there is a way out
Of this prison that I’m in.
It promised no rewards in heaven
Nor threatened hell for sinners.
Here there are no losers
Nor are there any winners.
There is no good, there is no bad,
There is no you and me.
Only thought divides our minds.
From thought we can be free.
We have ideas of who we are
And these are great in number.
They take us over one by one
And keep us in our slumber.
Each one has it’s opposite
With which it must change places.
The thrill of yesterday’s excitement
Boredom soon replaces.
Our thoughts keep us divided,
Keep our images in place.
These images we fear to lose
For the emptiness we’d face
Could we but face this emptiness
And let our minds be still,
In the emptiness and stillness
Would we know the One True Will.
Copyright 2007 © Connie M Butler
The Inner Music of Truly Joyful Living
– or in other words –
We Are Not the Lie We Think We Are
By Mark Butler
Just as musical notes and chords can strike a joyful ring of harmony within, the same is also true when it comes to a person being in harmony with who they really are. We are not the lie we think we are. Only through a new and courageous move toward inner honesty can we be in harmony with “The Ring of Truth Within”, far above the current "suffering self-lie". An individual, with a persistent and sincere interest in living an inwardly healthy and happy life, can sense the deep meaning and value of that which is truly helpful. When it comes to the truth of ourselves a very small part of us knows it without question. Our only one worthwhile task on this planet is to encourage that part. Therein rests the harmony we seek. Therein rests real compassion.
The way of making room for what is real starts with becoming disillusioned with mechanical actions. These mechanical actions in part include things we do because of habit and conditioning as well as unquestioned routines and dogmas. So called moral behavior practiced through group pressure and not through individual understanding is another mechanical action we should investigate. When we merely follow mechanical ways of behavior we are not being true to who we really are. Something in us senses that. Something in us also senses what it means to be a phony spiritualist. Thank God!
To be true to who we really are is to start to wake up to what has kept us in a deep slumber of mechanical living. We begin to find that a huge percentage of our activities, in reality, are meaningless movements in harmony with nothing of real substance. Something does not ring true in these activities, something is false. Furthermore, mechanical presentations of living a better life (by psychologically sleeping individuals claiming to have seen through the ego for instance) have nothing of lasting value within themselves. Finally and thankfully, we find that a deep seeded honesty can be cultivated to see through all that is false. Therein is the start of Higher understanding and beautiful harmonious living.
This inner-honest approach may be considered a challenging and difficult way, but taking this way results in immeasurable personal gratitude and good cheer for at last we have discovered the notes and chords which strike a resounding ring of harmony. This is the inner music of truly joyful living. This is the Truth that sets you free!
Copyright 2008 © Mark L. Butler
Mark and Linda Butler founded Eagle Literary Foundation in 1994. For over 20 years Mark has authored several articles and spoken on the topics of which he writes at seminars and groups in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas and Idaho. He currently holds weekly meetings on Wednesdays see ad in this issue.
Eagle developer looks to new ‘classic’ building
Mark Butler helps others navigate Eagle’s strict design standards
By Michelle Cork, Our Towns
Mark Butler doesn’t expect to get a lot of work done in his new office once it’s finished. He’ll be too busy enjoying it.
His company, Land Consultants Inc., will occupy half of the second floor of the R.L. Butler Building he’s constructing at State Street and Winding Creek Drive in Eagle.
The Queen Anne-style building — which will boast doors with etched glass, walnut floors and railings, a chandelier in the entry, and four clay chimney pots right out of the movie "Mary Poppins" — is unique to Eagle. But the late 1800s/early 1900s architecture style remains true to Eagle’s strict design standards, many of which Butler helped to write in 1999, when he was the city’s zoning administrator.
Ron Bath, a fellow developer and member of the Eagle Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee, says Butler has a knack for thinking outside the box while adhering to the guidelines designed to protect the integrity of the city.
"We do a lot of reading and a lot of studying of things that are outside of this area and apply them to this area," Bath says. "His perception is almost always accurate in terms of anticipating the future."
Butler can’t wait to sit in front of the fireplace in his new office or on its balcony. "I like the multiple design elements of the exterior — the steep, pitched roof, the walls and the porch," he says.
Land Consultants Inc. will share the second floor with an as-yet-unnamed professional office. Butler wants to lease at least half of the first floor to a breakfast eatery to give residents who will live in Bath’s Winding Creek Development, now under construction behind the Butler Building, someplace to go.
Butler worked for the city for five years, and remains committed to the original purpose of updating the design guidelines. "The whole intent was to bring pedestrian traffic downtown," the former planner in Nevada explains. He’s a member of the chamber board and chairman of the Eagle Fun Days planning committee. "If you can live downtown, play downtown, work downtown you can limit vehicle trips."
He acknowledges the changes haven’t been popular with everyone. "I think a lot of them have accepted it," he says. "It’s come further since 1999, but there’s still some who have trouble swallowing the ‘Eagle pill,’ so to speak."
His company, LCI, specializes in helping developers and landowners navigate the planning and zoning departments of Eagle and cities throughout the Treasure Valley.
Butler’s personal test of Eagle’s standards came when he bought the former Nazarene church at the corner of State and 2nd streets. That building was the first of several downtown properties that he’s bought and redeveloped.
He and his wife Linda remodeled the church, widened the sidewalks and planted trees. They initially rented it out, but a couple of years ago Linda opened a shop she says fits their vision of what downtown Eagle should be. It’s now a consignment and home accessories store called 2nd Avenue Inc.
"We want to see (in) the downtown more quaint little shops," Linda says. "I want to see something different happen." The Butlers did a lot of research into the area, its climate and comprehensive plan before they moved to Eagle from Boulder City, Nev., in 1994. But Linda had never visited before they packed up two kids and the family dog in the car and set out for Idaho.
"He didn’t have a job, we hadn’t sold our house, so we had sort of taken a leap," she says. But Mark says there are no regrets. "I love this place. … We weren’t looking for a place to work, we were looking for a place to live."
Will the real hate-monger please stand up?
By Mark L. Butler
With the overwhelming number of commentaries, letters to the editor, and public speeches and statements being made by individuals and groups asserting that this or that individual or group is guilty of “hate,” you can’t help but ask yourself, “Who is really guilty?”
It is the white, the black; the heterosexual, the homosexual; the Protestant, the Catholic; the Gentile, the Jew; the police, the civilian; the far right conservative, the far left liberal; all of the above; or none of the above?
Unfortunately, people are satisfied with a guilty verdict of “hate” being hurled upon an individual or group with little, if any, further investigation into finding out who the real hate-mongering individual is – behind the scene.
Hate mongering, and all ensuing atrocities, are a direct result of the “Ego” and its insane, ruthless, and incessant compulsion to value everything solely in reference to its own personal interest. People’s premature satisfaction with the guilty verdict comes because it is easy to see and combat an individual or group, whereas it takes a tremendous amount of effort and self-investigation to see, combat, and abolish the “Ego,” especially when it is our own.
The “Ego” is like an iceberg. Little is seen above the surface compared to what is hidden below. Sometimes we see shocking and dramatic destruction from an iceberg, like the sinking of the so-called unsinkable Titanic. Such a disaster is similar to a shocking large-scale social atrocity caused by the insanity of an obviously nefarious “Ego.” Usually, though, we only see an iceberg’s tip and don’t consider what is hidden under the surface.
This is similar to seeing depression, boredom, anger, and acts of revenge, and merely attributing such harmful behaviors to human nature, when in fact we should consider the disastrous power of violence that lies deep within a human being who does not question their participation in such ludicrous behavior. We further excuse and justify these actions within ourselves by saying things like, “Well, nobody’s perfect” or, “That person deserves it” – referring to the vengeful acts we so self-righteously inflict on others.
We don’t see that the tip of the iceberg is as much a part of the dangerous hidden mass beneath the sea as our own habitual behavior is part of the insane “Ego” that causes mass destruction and social chaos.
Isn’t the tip of the iceberg still a part of the iceberg? And, although it is a smaller part, isn’t it made up of exactly the same material as the larger mass? You can say the same thing about the “Ego”.
There is, however, a chief obstacle which blocks us from seeing the “Ego” as a criminal hate-monger. If people were to focus on such a fact they would have no choice but to conclude that almost every person on the planet would be partly responsible for contributing to hate. Oh no! That means I might be included. That is exactly why such an investigation seldom if ever occurs. Instead, we end up with endless accusations and society after society (as thousands of years of history has shown) that does not sustain a lasting quality lifestyle but merely swings from various levels of social morality, decency and individual responsibility, to war, filth and degeneration.
The good news is that an individual can change. You and I truly can be in this world and not be of it. We can, inwardly, come out from among them. If we have such an experience we will have no compulsion to prove it to others because we have deliberately decided to go though the terrifyingly wrenching experience of allowing our own “Ego” to crumble. Incidentally, only at a point after the death of the “Ego” can we experience New Birth. Anything short of that is egotistical imagination limiting us to a dreadful, non-everlasting and otherwise deluded life.
We should become equally repulsed with our own “Ego” actions as we are repulsed and horrified by the atrocities committed within society. Society cannot function on a higher level if individuals do not function on a higher level.
Let’s become individuals who question ourselves when we so quickly excuse and justify our destructive habitual behaviors, especially when the behavior results from someone offending our phony Precious Darling Feelings (i.e., “Ego).
This can provide our first glimpse into where we should hurl our guilty verdict of hate. After deliberately exposing ourselves to such a shocking reality, we can move forward with becoming better individuals contributing to a better society.
Seminar offers ‘Healthier, Happier Living’
By Frank Thomason, The Valley News
EAGLE – How do we go about becoming happier and healthier?The nonprofit Eagle Literary Foundation is hosting a special major annual event at the Idaho Historical Museum on Saturday, May 30.
A half dozen speakers from Boise and southern Oregon and southern Nevada will explain at the one-day seminar how you can
• turn anger, loneliness and boredom’s energy into new power for happiness, success and security;
• learn “conscious living techniques” for understanding human nature and what lies beyond it; and
• improve relationships at home, at work, everywhere.
“We’ll have different speakers in the morning and in the afternoon” said organizer Mark Butler, who’s been helping arrange seminars since the early 80s.
A $5 donation is requested per meeting, but no one will be turned away for inability to pay.
Butler and his wife, Linda, conduct sessions for the foundation every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Boise’s Log Cabin Literary Center.
“You can live a better life, there’s a lot of problems we don’t even know we have,” he said. “This is a group that can help you find them. Wouldn’t it be wise to go into our problems deeply, to find out what’s there that’s actually stopping us from living better?
“We not only talk about daily living, but trying to make a practical connection between living better and eternal life, what it means to live beyond this life. To me, heaven or hell is not some future thing. We’re either in heaven or hell right now.”
The seminar’s focus will be on “trying to bring everything back to the now, to be more aware of ourselves physically and bring ourselves back to the present,” Butler said. “Think of all those future strains or past pains, that’s a hellish feeling. People say it’s just human nature, but it doesn’t mean we have to live this way.
“We can be one of those rare individuals that find out heaven is a personal experience we can have now. We don’t make any promises and we don’t have any gurus or teachers we’re setting up as idols.
“We’re saying, find out for yourselves how we can live a happier, healthier life now and have some connection personally with something beyond this life. All the books and teachers in the world wouldn’t enable us to understand the taste of peach. Until we taste it for ourselves, why do we think differently about our living better? We need to have the experience for ourselves.”
All that’s needed in a willingness to look at oneself, Butler said, adding an example from past experience at foundation meetings.
“One gentleman had no job for some time and was bored to death,” Butler said. “He came to the meetings and one day was lying in bed with his thoughts swirling, why can’t I get a job?“
All of a sudden he remembered the principles we talked about. He brought himself back to the room and felt a tremendous relaxing experience. All of the negative thoughts and emotions just dropped away.
“The idea isn’t to have this happen just once or twice, but to break the habit of the conditioned self once and for all,” Butler said. “We don’t have any specific exercises like meditation of becoming a vegetarian.
“We’re saying, take your daily life and meditate right now, at work. If you’re a little nervous about being called into the boss’s office, be aware of your body and relax. Over the years I’ve had a lot of people say, I’m aware of where I’m at. But we are so incredible mechanical and conditioned that we don’t realize we are not.
“What we’re trying to do here is to break it, but first there has to be an awareness of pain or being at a dead end, before there’s an incentive to break it. If we’re satisfied with subduing our pain by becoming one of the many ‘holics,’ that is, an alcoholic, workaholic or religionaholic, there’s no interest in finding out about our inner self.
“A lake becomes stagnant unless the water comes in and goes out. I feel that way about myself, I study philosophers’ writings and learn things throughout my working day. If I don’t express that and talk about it, it becomes stagnant. By expressing them, new ideas come in and help me live my life better.
“We practice breaking the nagging thought that takes over and won’t let us sleep,” he said. “Or an exercise, take a week and watch for painful emotions like anger. Catch and break, catch a though and break it, drop it. Exercises are repeated over and over again.
“The whole purpose is to live more happily and more healthfully.”
Group ponders works of writer Vernon Howard
By Martin S. Johncox, The Idaho Statesman
Eagle is known for its small-town charm, good outdoor recreation and upscale homes. Now, you can add philosophers to the list.
The Eagle Literary Foundation has become a way for people from Boise and western Ada County to meet and discuss topics as grand as the meaning of life and as relevant as how to cope with anger in traffic confrontation.
For now, most of the weekly discussion groups take place in the living room of Mark and Linda Butler. They discuss contemporary thinkers such as Vernon Howard and P.D. Ouspensky, and more traditional ones like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Socrates and Plato. They also study the New Testament.
“It’s about how to understand daily living and dealing with yourself,” said Linda Butler, 37, who founded the Eagle Literary Foundation with her husband Mark.
The foundation began at the end of September, with a meeting that drew 43 people to the Boise Public Library. About a half-dozen people usually attend the meeting in the Butlers’ home, but they are currently negotiating with a seller for a 3,000-square-foot building in Eagle where they can hold regular meetings.
Much of the studies involve the works of Vernon Howard, a philosopher, lecturer and writer who died in 1992. Nationally, there are dozens of Vernon Howard study groups, and his books have sold about 7 million copies. Mark Butler said he began studying Howard as a teen-ager.
Howard’s approach to life is to consider the conscious mind as a tool of the higher spiritual self. From the minute people are born, they are forming associations, placing labels and isolating themselves. This keeps people from understanding their “true nature” and denies them people and security.
Howard’s wisdom is often humorous: “Men who fall from a canoe while standing up to attract attention always claim someone pushed them,” or “A truly happy man is one who feels no different when the party ends than he did while it was going on.”
“He’s a wise man who presents the truth without any sugar coating,” said Mark Butler, 36. “He had a Volkswagen for 12 years, he wore casual clothes. He was a very simple person.”
But Howard’s teachings may not be for everyone. While most self-help groups these days tell people that anger is normal and they should express it, Howard’s approach is different: anger is harmful and unnatural.
“What we’re saying is not to repress anger and not to express it, but rather transcend it through understanding,” Mark Butler said. “The whole bottom line is self-change, and it’s something people really don’t want on the psychological level.”
The Butlers came from Boulder City, Nev., near Las Vegas. But they felt the area was becoming too unsafe and difficult to raise a family in, so they did some research and chose Eagle as the place to live. The couple has an 11-year-old daughter and a 2 ½-year-old son.
“People here are very courteous,” Mark Butler said. “Once I was trying to pull out of a parking lot, and a car stopped in the middle of the street to let me get into traffic. At first, I didn’t know why they stopped.”
Mark butler was a city planner in Henderson, and just started a job as a planner with the Ada County Highway District. Linda Butler teaches dance with Ballet Idaho.
The discussions usually follow a certain topic related to the reading, such as the perception that you are missing out on things in life, how to deal with anger or how to handle difficult people.
“A lot of it is self-observation. People react unconsciously, without observing themselves and seeing what’s going on,” said Linda Butler. “If you are conscious, you can see you have a choice. Anger can even give you a sense of identity.”
At a discussion group this week, one man said the writings have taught him to better deal with anger.
“I read a few books and understood my anger, and now I’ve mellowed out a lot,” said Larry, a 46-year-old house remodeler who declined to give his last name. “People often set the tempo for how you feel, and it shouldn’t be like that.”